Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Chanukah Sicha

In the V'al HaNissim prayer, it says the Jews lit the candles of the courtyards of Your Mikdash.
Ummm, what were they doing lighting the menorah in the courtyard? The menorah's place was in the Kodesh, the Holy!

The Chassam Sofer explains that since the Kodesh itself had been defiled and dirty, the Jews wanted to light the menorah outside, where it was clean. This was better in a way, says the Chassam Sofer, since now more Jews would see the miracle of the oil.

The Rebbe asks a bunch of questions on this explanation:
Does it really make sense that the Greeks only defiled the Kodesh, and left the rest of the Beis HaMikdash intact? The Courtyard was surely desecrated as well!
If the Courtyard was defiled, then why would the Jews clean it first, before the Kodesh? The Kodesh and Kodesh HaKadoshim certainly must have been cleaned first, so there was no need to move the menora outside into the still dirty Courtyard.
How were they supposed to know a miracle would happen in the first place with the oil, to give cause for them to move it outside to the Courtyard for everyone to see?
Finally, it says Courtyards, not the Courtyard, but all the courtyards, all over the Temple Mount, they were lighting candels.

The Rebbe says that we are forced to conclude that this is not referring to the miracle of the oil in the Temple Menorah.

If so, then nowhere in the V'al HaNissim are we mentioning the miracle of oil!!??? How could that be??
Isn't the oil miracle just as big, if not more miraculous than the victory of the war?

Now let's take a look at the gemara in Mesechta Shabbos which discusses Chanukah. The gemara asks, for what did the sages establish the holiday of Chanukah?

What do you know? The gemara says it was for the miracle of the oil! The miraculous victory of the war is not even mentioned! The gemara just says that the Jews won the war, and went to clean up the Beis HaMikdash, and couldn't find oil... The victory of the war is only mentioned in the gemara as part of the story and an introduction to the real miracle: the oil!

If this was such a great miracle, why wasn't it put into the V'Al Hanissim prayer?
And why wasn't the miraculous defeat of the Greek army in the hands of the few given a more proper place in the Gemara?

To understand this, we first have to take a look at what the Greek's problem with the Jews was, in the first place. (All of you know this already, so I'll make it quick.)

The Greek civilization was all about the body. In two months the winter Olympics will be taking place, dating back to the Greeks. They worshipped Man. The body and the mind.
Who's the smartest nation? The Jews, obviously. Who's the best looking nation? Hmmm.... big noses, sidelocks and beards are coming back into style..
But anyway, the Greeks had no problem with the Jews practicing Yiddishkeit, as long as it sharpened the mind, etc. They had no problem with most of the Mitzvos, either, as long as they made sense, like Don't Steal.
The Greeks did have a problem with the G-d part of Yiddishkeit. "Lihashkicham Torasecha, L'ha'aviram M' Chukei Retzoinecha...." The fact that we were learning Torah because it was G-dly, and how we were doing even mitzvos that did not make sense at all, only to fulfill G-d's will.

It was a battle against our souls, not our bodies. Purim, on the other hand, was a war against our Guf, but Chanuka was a war against our Neshama.

What represents spirtuality the most? What physical creation in this world is closest to something spiritual?

Light.

If not for the confines of the atmosphere, etc., if you would shine a light, it would continue forever. Like a laser.

The miracle of our spiritual salvation was the most important part of Chanukah. That's why we commemorate it by lighting the menorah for eight nights.

To commemorate the physical salvation, which was still something to be thankful for, the sages established the recitation of Hallel, and V'al Hanissim.
V'al Hanissim purposely does not mention anything about the miracle of the oil, because in light of that miracle of salvation, our physical victory holds no importance whatsoever. We would not be able to mention anything about the war, had we also mentioned the oil lasting for eight days.

Then what were the Jews doing lighting candles all over the place throughout the Beis Hamikdash? It was another form of praise and thanksgiving. There is a custom to have candles in a shul, for the same reason.


Get it?

The sicha is from chelek Chof Hey, and I suggest you look it up yourself, if you have the time.